New Year = new benefits banks available! Do you have Extended Health Benefits? Are you aware of how much you have allotted to you towards counselling? The beginning of the New Year can be a great time to work towards those new years goals you have set for yourself- especially when it comes to self-care and support – through counselling. It can be completed in 3 steps:

  1. Check with your Extended Health Benefits to see how much funding you have available towards counselling
  2. Check to see which types of professionals your Extended Health Benefits cover- many cover Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs), but some state that they only cover Registered Social Workers (RSW) and/or Registered Psychologists (R.Psych). Don’t worry if you don’t have coverage for a RCC- see below on how to get coverage!
  3. Find the counsellor you want to invest yourself with and give them a call for a consult or to schedule an appointment! Check out my Contact Me page to make your next step in scheduling an appointment with me!
  4. Once you have attended your first session, apply to your Extended Health Program for reimbursement of your payment!

Which Extended Health Programs currently cover RCCs (like me)?

Great West Life

Pacific Blue Cross

Sunlife Insurance

Green Shield Insurance

Employee Assistance Programs

*Family Assistance Programs

*Workers Compensation Board (WCB)

*Victim’s Assistance Services (call 604-660-3888 or toll free in BC at 1-866-660-3888 to enroll with CVAP)

* ICBC (if involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident causing anxiety and trauma you may get approval for counselling)

*= Companies require prior approval for funded counselling

So what happens if your Extended Health Benefits don’t cover RCCs (like me)? First is to contact your employer, Human Resources Department, or insurance company directly to request a small change to the plan’s coverage.  This isn’t difficult, doesn’t cost the employer anything, and at the same time increases your employee benefits (your benefits working for your needs).  Employers already pay for your benefits package and want you to use them and therefore like to increase the amount of benefits that their employees can access. Asking for a change in your plan also does not cost the employer any additional fee!  RCCs are also less expensive than Registered Psychologists- therefore allowing your dollars to go further!  Please use the link below to access a document with the information you will need to put into your own letter when making this request.

So why not take advantage of the benefits that are waiting for you at the beginning of each new year? To get started on your next step, visit my Contact Me page to schedule your first appointment.

So, what’s up with the 50-minute therapy hour? You have decided to go to counselling. You have called the clinician, scheduled an appointment, and go for your first appointment. During this time, you discover that your appointments are 50 minutes but it is called a therapy hour. How does this happen? An our is 60 minutes long but the therapy session is only 50 minutes… so what has happened the other 10 minutes? Well my hope here is that I can explain this process and help you understand a little more on why you are allotted a 50-minute counselling hour. Counselling sessions are scheduled in 50 minutes because of a few reasons

  1. We are human and sometimes run behind schedule. Yes – this happens regularly. Someone comes in for a session a few minutes late, or the appointment requires a few more moments of attention, or the session takes the full 50 minutes and now the client and clinician are just booking their next appointment. By having a 50-minute session, these things that cause us to run a few minutes behind allow for space for it to be done, without interfering with the next appointment.
  2. Each appointment with clients needs to be charted for legal and ethical reasons. While these are very minimal and short notes, there needs to be notes nonetheless. By having a 50-minute session with clients, it allows for the clinician to complete the client notes while the session is still fresh and present, ensuring more accurate notes as opposed to writing notes hours later.
  3. Time to clear the mind. As clinicians, we hear a lot of stories from clients daily and we make sure to keep each story connected to each client. To allow for this to happen however, we need to take a breath and organize our thoughts, clear our minds, and be ready for the next session.
  4. Basic human needs need to be met. Clinicians, just like you, are humans who need bathroom breaks and snacks. I can promise you that I, in particular, am not going to be on my A-game if I am needing to use the washroom during our entire appointment or having my stomach growing, and interrupting our time together.
  5. Time to make you a cup of tea! In my practice I enjoy offering each of my clients a cup of tea or glass of water for our session. I know I need something to drink over the period of an hour, and think that you might want that too! So, during those 10 minutes, it also allows me times to out the kettle on and have it boiled and ready for your appointment!

All in all, even though the counselling hour seems a bit strange that it is only 50 minutes, those 10 minutes in between sessions are vital for counsellors to have in order to keep each session running smoothly. It allows for clients to finish up what they came to talk about, for notes to be taken, clinicians to clear their minds, have clinicians meet their basic needs, and to keep a warm cup of tea available. Please understand that during our time together, I am making sure that I am able to be present for you during our time together and am utilizing the minutes wisely to keep me present. If you have any questions about the 50-minute hour, or would like to schedule one for yourself, please visit my contact me page to connect.

Support networks, who needs them, right? The answer here is we all do. We all need a network of people in our lives to help us in various ways. Here are just some examples throughout the life course: When we are infants, we needed caregivers to feed us, clothe us, and house us. We needed friends in elementary school to teach us how to share, interact and learn valuable life lessons (like sharing, compromise and working together). In high school we needed teachers to help us learn and develop or brain capacities, and we needed family and friends to help us feel connected, supported and worthy. As adults, we need some kind of employment to support our financial and basic needs (shelter, food, water, and safety), we need close, personal relationships to feel connection, worthiness and belonging, and we need a sense of hope and purpose to continue living. So, what happens when you are feeling that you are needing some support as a pick-me-up when you are struggling? If you haven’t noticed the similarities throughout the lifespan so far, let me give you a BIG hint- it’s people. We need people in our lives throughout our lifetime. We are incredibly social creatures who are not meant to travel this life on our own. So, who is in your support network? Who can you turn to when you are needing help in any way? Now, let me interrupt myself here and share that you CANNOT have one person who is there for absolutely all of your needs. We all need a lot of different kinds of help in life and they cannot all possibly come from one specific person. Why? It is too much pressure, work, responsibility and reliability on one person. Plus, what happens for you when that person is not available in your time of need, or (please forbid) that person has died and cannot be there any longer to support you in the ways that you need? We all need a lot of people in our lives for support. Think of it as a wheel. In the center is you, and around you are a list of situations and needs reaching out like arms from you. Watch a movie with, go for a walk with, travel with, talk on the phone with, cry with, sit in silence with, play a game or sport with, go shopping with, talk about your fears and concerns with, brain storm with, talk about your emotions with, talk about work with, etc., etc. etc. On the wheel, my hope is that you have numerous people that fit throughout the needs. Some people might repeat themselves on the list, you may even have multiple people on the same lie, and there might even be people missing from some lines because you haven’t realized that you don’t yet have someone to fill that need. This is all normal! Until we really look at our needs and the relationships we have, and maybe even the situations we have been in (maybe there are topics on the wheel you have yet to experience so you might not yet know who would be the person you turn to), we won’t know how much we are leaning on one (or a few) specific people to fulfill all of our needs. So, to try and avoid feeling a void later in life, when those people we lean maybe a little too much on are no longer available, why not look at what your support network looks like now and try to work on growing it in a way that you feel fills your needs best? If this is something you are interested, and would like support with, or to talk about further, please visit my contact me page to connect.

Are you interested in starting counselling or therapy? Have you been feeling like there is a need for a change in your life and you would like someone to support you with that? Wondering how you even get started?

If you have had any of these thoughts then you are in the right place! Here are some of the things I encourage others to do before starting therapy:

  1. Know what you want to work on or what your goals are

Your first session in therapy will most likely be around setting goals – your therapist will be asking you questions about what brings you to counselling in order to h=better understand what is troubling you and what it is that you want to work on. By coming in with an idea of what it is that brings you to counselling, and what you want the end result to look like, the better developed your sessions will be with your therapist.

  1. Decide if you are paying privately or want to go through your extended health benefits

Finances are always important to consider when thinking about counselling. It will cost on average, between $110-$120 per session with a Registered Clinical Counsellor in BC, and $160+ per session for a Registered Psychologist. Counselling is absolutely an invest in yourself, but you need to decide for yourself, how you would like to go about doing it. I encourage each person who contacts me to check with their Extend Health Coverage through work or other funding, to see what is available to them for funded counselling, especially if finances are a consideration. If you are paying privately, make sure you also discuss your financial limits with your prospective counsellor in regards to the number of sessions you are willing to pay for and over what period of time.  This conversation can help structure your counselling sessions to a time frame that works for you, while not putting additional strain on your finances.

  1. Do your research to find possible counsellors

Not every counsellor is able to support every issue – each of us has strengths in particular areas that makes us better equipped to support you in your needs. Do your homework here. Look up counsellors in your area and who specialise in the topics you are most wanting to discuss. Finding a counsellor who has experience and knowledge in particular areas might be better able to support you and understand your struggles over a counsellor who has not experienced support others with that concern. My example here to help highlight this is that if you are an adult who is struggling with work stress, attending to a counsellor who specialises in children with developmental abilities might not be the best match. Do your research by searching those in your area and with one or more of the topics you want to address. Then check out their websites and online presence to see if you think they might be a good fi for you. Then give them a call or send an email to further discuss.

  1. Find a good fit

Just as we judge how we feel with others in our lives, you also need to judge how you feel with your counsellor. Once you have narrowed down the options for potential counsellors in your area, who specialize in what you are looking for, give them a call or send them an email (if available) and connect. Get a sense of who they are and if you feel that you would want to develop a professional relationship with them. Remember, your first impression here is what might set one counsellor a part from the rest. Go with the candidate that feels the best for you. Most counsellors will give you a free 15-minute phone consultation to help you determine if it is a good fit.

  1. Recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither were you

Just like building a city, therapy is not going to solve the issue in the first session. Therapy can take a bit of time – you need to feel comfortable enough to share what is weighing on your heart and body, and you need to take time to practice the suggestions and concepts discussed in session. This here is where I would like to remind you to make sure that you are aware of the timeline/number of sessions you and your therapist agreed up at the beginning of your therapy. If you have a limited number of sessions, you may not be getting at the route of the issue but instead building strategies and tools to help you cope with the issue that brought you into counselling. Likewise, when you have time to spend working on the issue, you will have to first develop strategies to help you when you and your counsellor begin to work at the root of the issue, so that you can manage out in the wold in between sessions. This will all take time, but be patient with yourself. You are doing all the hard work.

  1. Only go because you want to

Counselling will only work if you want it to. Being forced to come to counselling when you are not open to it does not allow for change to occur. I believe that we will only change things when we want to, and not when we don’t. The resistance in the room may prevent good work from happening. If you are not the one who wants to be in the counselling room, perhaps taking sometime first, to determine what it is that you would like, would be a good option. If you would like support in deciding on what you would like, counselling may be beneficial as a very brief support.

  1. Know that things only change when you work at them

Just because you have decided to go to counselling, does not mean that the hard work is done. While the counselling session may indeed be a lot of work, and perhaps takes a lot out of you, it is the content of your sessions that will need to be contemplated, reviewed, tried and reassessed throughout the time in between your sessions and after. Just as you have to work hard in your job to grow, learn and move forward, so too is the perspective in counselling. But you know you can do it, it is part of the reason why you came to counselling – to make a change for the better in your life. Believe in yourself that the hard work is worth it and you will see the results.

If you are interested in beginning counselling, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to provide a 15-minute free consultation over the phone to help you determine if I am the right fit for you.

There can be stigma and judgement around counselling – and all therapists know it exists. There may be a fear of judgement from others, a feeling of failure that might be associated to asking for help, or there can be fears around engaging with a stranger to talk about your current struggles, amongst many more reasons. I want to join with you to help change this stigma and the judgement around counselling. We are innately social beings who need love and connection with others. We are meant to live in communities and to feel healthy bonds between those closest to us in our lives. However, this might not always mean that we can connect and share what is bothering us so deeply with those around us. This might be for fear or judgement, rejection, hurt, or something we cannot pinpoint but somehow doesn’t feel right. Sometimes we might just need someone who does not live within our daily lives to help dissect and work through that which we find troubling at the time. My hope is that the concept of speaking with and connecting to a qualified professional can be encouraged and praised amongst ourselves and throughout our society. What a place we might live in if everyone grew up learning that seeking support for all aspects of our lives was praised and encouraged! It is socially acceptable to seek medical attention when we break an arm or leg, so why can’t it be the same when we feel that something is not right within our thoughts and feelings? I believe that if this shift were to change, we all might be able to ask for help a little bit sooner, and hopefully before we feel as though our lives are in crisis. Should you find yourself wanting to change the stigma around counselling in your life, or want to begin counselling, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help remove the stigma and you find the connection you are looking for.

The changing of seasons can be a powerful place; the start of new beginnings, or the ending of others.  It is a place where we can look at ourselves and the world differently. Perhaps this might be just in terms of wardrobe, activities, or morning ritual, or maybe it means moving, creating a new self, starting a new year, or making a new change. I see these times of change as moments that allow us to be in a different place from where we last were. The change of a season can be glorious, exciting, stressful, uneasy, and even lonely. I remember particularly the changing from summer to fall used to mean the beginning of school, and then end of summer freedom or full-time work; but sometimes it meant being in a new, and potentially unfamiliar situation where it felt like significant adaptation and personal growth was needed. I believe it is in these moments that we have the potential to grow and to becomes better versions of ourselves. To be tested and pushed to go from a place of comfort and familiarity, to a place of new, unknown and wonder. To quote actress, singer, and director, Selena Gomez, ‘But people are put into your life for seasons, for different reason, and to teach you lessons’. If you are finding yourself in a place where you are experiencing change, and feel that you could use some support, please feel free to visit my contact page to schedule an appointment.

The Power of Play

The action of playing has a powerful impact every time we engage in it. It allows laughter and joy, quiet and peace, a joining and an independence. Play gives us space to process what our minds are thinking by creating a bit of distance. This distance allows us to step a step back – look at what is happening – and absorb all that we can at that time. This absorption may be something wonderful and supportive, it could create distance form that which is troubling you (such as the loss of a person, the current stress in your life), or it could help you create strategies on how to get through the tough time you may currently be experiencing. In my practice, and life, I believe in power of play to support emotional regulation, and to relieve unwanted tension. Therefore, I keep things to play with (such as slinkies, putty, balls, colouring books and paint) to help with processing and self-soothing. So please, help yourself to a toy in the office while you come for your session; try and experience the power of play.

With the use of technology now, we are able to get up-to-date information of what is happening around the world through the news, but also through social media. For some, this immediate access to information is very important and enjoyable; for others, it can be overwhelming and bombarding. Public transit ads, social media videos, articles, posts, the television and newspapers continually informing the world of current events and past reminders. The devastation in the world can become so much that it may be impacting your ability to enjoy life, or to live in the moment. Maybe the news even brings concerns forward that you weren’t aware of, or thought had been dealt with or forgotten. Finding balance again can seem difficult or maybe you don’t know where to start. If you find yourself looking for some support on this matter, please visit my contact me page to schedule an appointment.

Have you heard of a vision board? Have you utilized them? If you haven’t heard of a vision board before, let me introduce you to them. Vision boards are a visualization tool used to remind yourself of the goals you have set out for the year. Typically, they are created at the end of December/beginning of January, or at the beginning of a big change. They are used to set new goals, a new vision, or update the purpose of what it is that you want to achieve in the upcoming year. The vision board can be made from whatever it is that you want; it is an expression of yourself through cuts outs, print outs, drawings, or written words. The idea is to complete it, and hang it somewhere you will see every day, and let it stay there for the year. It is the hope that you will see it, even if you do not read it, daily. It is the hope that what you have put on your board will consciously, or subconsciously, remind you of the goals you have put out for yourself. Then, at the end of the year, when it is time to make a new one, you are able to look at it and reflect back to see what your year has been like. What did you achieve? What is still growing? What do you want to change? What do you want to stay the same? I find vision boards to be incredibly helpful and empowering. I have been completing them for the past 3 years, and have found them to be the most powerful reminder of what it is that I have accomplished in the past year, and a constant reminder of what it is that I want to achieve this coming year. If you would like to make a vision board, I encourage you to do it. If you are looking for guidance and support in this, to get you started, please feel free to visit my Contact Me page to schedule an appointment. I would be delighted to discuss and accompany you in your fist vision board development.