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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Therapy And Counselling

psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in psychiatry. Psychiatrists diagnose mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and neurological disorders, and they prescribe medication as needed. Some psychiatrists provide therapy to their patients, but much of their time is spent managing medication as course of treatment. They will often refer out for counselling.

psychologist is qualified to diagnose a mental health disorder, but is not able to prescribe medication. Psychologists focus on counselling, research and teaching, and often work in tandem with psychiatrists.

therapist is a mental health clinician who helps their clients develop better cognitive and emotional skills, so they can cope with challenges like past trauma and present-day stress. Therapists are counsellors and have access to a much broader field of potential models for counselling.

Social workers have two different camps: clinical counselling (described above) and community. Community social workers provide case support and assessment to families and children, and other vulnerable people. They often help government or local agencies with social policy and service recommendations.

Psychotherapy occurs when the psychotherapist and client enter into a therapeutic relationship in which they work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behaviour and social functioning. It is primarily a talk-based therapy aimed at helping people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being.

Most psychotherapists work with individuals, and some specialize in working with couples and families in individual and group settings.

Individuals usually seek out psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are negatively affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and ability to enjoy life. Families and couples often seek help resolving communication difficulties and failures to resolve conflicts.

One of the most important questions to ask a therapist is if they themselves are in therapy. People in this line of work need to practice their own self care and keep their emotional and mental health in check. If a therapist has not gone through their own therapeutic processes, this is a sign that they haven’t done their own work, and helping clients would be like the blind leading the blind.

Additional questions to ask include the following:

  • What therapeutic methodologies do you use?
  • What is your therapeutic approach?
  • Do you have experience dealing with specified issues?

It is inevitable that some therapists are not the right fit for some clients. This is not the fault of either the therapist or the client – it is simply a reflection of the diversity of human nature.

You might go into therapy with the best of intentions, feeling ready to finally do your own work, only to discover that your therapist is not the right fit.  It usually takes about three sessions to start getting a sense of this: if the therapist does not feel right for you,  it is important to have an open conversation with them about it. All ethical therapists want to help their clients and will refer out to another therapist if the discovery is made that it’s not the right fit.

Here are some signs that your therapist is right for you:

  • You feel comfortable and safe disclosing your feelings. You can be honest and true to yourself without judgement, criticism or shame (this may take a few sessions to establish).
  • You feel heard as a result of the therapist practicing active listening skills, and not being preoccupied or regularly interrupting you.
  • You feel that your sessions are about you, and not about your therapist’s problems and agendas.

You feel a sense of connection with your therapist. Therapy isn’t always easy, so it’s important that you like and feel accepted by the person journeying with you. Your therapist should be someone who “gets” you and cares about you and your issues.

Therapy is a partnership between you and a professional who is trained to help you understand your feelings, so you can make positive changes to your thoughts and behaviour. People often consider therapy under the following circumstances:

  • They feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of sadness and helplessness
  • They feel like they can’t get their lives together
  • Their emotional difficulties make it hard for them to function from day to day
  • Their actions and patterns are harmful to themselves or others
  • They are troubled by emotional difficulties facing family members or close friends
  • Their relationships are suffering
  • They just need someone to talk to

While a therapist doesn’t solve your problems for you, they can help you clarify issues, empowering you to solve problems on your own with their guidance, support and expertise. The goal of therapy is to make you more self-sufficient, not more dependent.

Therapy is a two-way process that works especially well when you and your therapist communicate openly. Research shows that the outcome of therapy is improved when the therapist and the client agree early in the process about what the major issues are and how therapy can help.

You and your therapist both have responsibilities in establishing and maintaining a good working relationship. Be clear and open with your therapist about your concerns as they arise. Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled sessions and give some forethought as to what you want to discuss during each session.

If a therapist has work for you to do between sessions, doing the suggested work will help speed the healing process considerably. It will also allow you to learn, practice and instill the skillsets that you need.

Therapy isn’t easy. But individuals willing to work in close partnership with their therapist will often find relief from their emotional distress and begin to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.

As you begin therapy, you should establish clear goals with your therapist. Perhaps you want to overcome feelings of hopelessness associated with feelings of depression. Or maybe you would like to control fear that disrupts your daily life. Maybe you would like to improve a specific relationship in your life, or deepen your relationship with yourself and understand yourself more. Keep in mind that certain tasks require more time to accomplish than others. You may need to adjust your goals as you go.

After a few sessions, you should start to feel that the experience is a joint effort, and that you and your therapist enjoy a comfortable relationship. On the other hand, you should be open with your therapist if you find yourself feeling “stuck” or lacking direction once you have been in therapy for a while.

You may feel a wide range of emotions during therapy. It is completely normal to fear that you may have difficulty discussing painful and troubling experiences. This worry can actually be cathartic and a positive sign that you are starting to explore your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in a way that will eventually lead to the fulfillment of your goals.

You and your therapist should occasionally spend time reviewing your progress. Although there are several things to consider when it comes to the duration of your therapy, success in reaching your primary goals should be the primary deciding factor.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the use of medication as a complete alternative to psychotherapy has increased as a treatment for mental health concerns. However, over 50 peer-reviewed studies underscore the benefits of psychotherapy, both as a sole treatment and as part of a treatment plan that also incorporates medication.

Some key findings are as following:

  • Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for a variety of mental illnesses and behavioural issues, over a broad spectrum of the population.
  • The use of psychotherapy reduces rates of psychiatric hospitalization, disability and mortality.
  • While lacking the side effects of treatments that are based solely on medication, psychotherapy produces lasting results.
  • In the many instances that require the use of medication, outcomes are better when this is combined with psychotherapy than when medication is used on its own.

For more information about the effectiveness of therapy as a treatment, please refer to the following links:

Questions About Therapy And Counselling

Reiki is a spiritual healing art with Japanese roots. The word Reiki is derived from the Japanese words Rei, which means “universal life” and Ki which means “energy”.

Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice, nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.

Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy, and to use it to strengthen themselves and help others. When a person’s “ki” or energy is strong and free-flowing, their body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked, it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.

A Reiki session can help ease tension and stress, and it can support the body in facilitating an environment for healing on all levels: physical, mental, and emotional. Sessions are pleasant and relaxing while being beneficial for personal wellness.

Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel”. The word in this context refers to the energy centres in our bodies. Chakra therapy has its origins in early Hinduism and Buddhism.

We have seven Chakras, or energy centres, that start at the top of the head and end at the bottom of the spine. They regulate all parts of the body’s systems, influencing everything from emotional processing to resistance to disease. Chakra healing techniques focus on opening up the Chakras and keeping then in alignment. If they become blocked or out of sync, this can negatively impact physical and psychological health.

Questions About Therapy And Counselling

Transformational coaching is similar to life coaching in the sense that the goal is the same: to help people improve their lives through better goal setting, improved stress management, and increased productivity.

The difference is in the methodology. Traditional life coaching focuses on teaching external behaviours, such as how to get realistic goals, draw up a roadmap for achieving those goals, and manage time on a day-to-day basis. These are important skills, and there is value in including them in a series of coaching sessions.

However, some people need more. Transformational coaching focuses on helping people evaluate and challenge the way they look at themselves and the world. In doing this, clients can challenge the thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that are standing in their way. In overcoming these negative patterns and reframing them, clients find it easier to change the outward behaviours that need to be changed.

Questions About Therapy And Counselling

I operate from the perspective that this is your journey. What I want to instill in my clients is self-trust. You will know when you are done or need a break, or when you need to come back. You get to choose.

If a client is in an acute crisis, I recommend weekly sessions until things become more stable. Once the crisis has passed, we can move to bi-weekly or even monthly sessions. It depends on what you choose, along with what is in your best interest therapeutically. If you are interested in unpacking old trauma and improving your life overall, my recommendation would be weekly or bi-weekly sessions. I’m also a huge believer in giving work to do outside the session. It is not mandatory, but doing one’s own work between sessions expedites the healing process.

From an ethical standpoint, it would be wrong for any therapist to want their clients to need sessions forever. I want you to “graduate” from therapy. The goal is to get you feeling better so that you can get back to your life. Once you are no longer having regular sessions, you can still check in whenever you need to. You are encouraged to regard your therapist as a tool in your health and wellness toolbox.

Yes. I conduct sessions via Zoom and phone and, in normal  times, in person.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, safety is a primary concern. While pandemic restrictions are in place, all sessions will be conducted remotely, via Zoom or telephone. I am not able to offer Reiki and energy services at this time, due to the hands-on nature of the sessions.

Fees are discussed during the initial contact. My fees are not covered by insurance. The client is responsible for the fees at the time the service is delivered, unless arranged otherwise. Fees are charged on an hourly basis. Packaged sessions are available at a discount.

Yes, your information is kept completely and strictly confidential. I will not disclose any of it to anyone unless you give me permission. You can withdraw this permission at any time.

There are some specific exceptions to this rule. Personal information may be disclosed to third parties if:

  • I am made aware that a child has been, is currently, or could potentially be harmed
  • There is reason to believe that a client is a danger to themselves or others
  • Your therapy files are subpoenaed in the course of litigation

The initial intake is up to 1.5 hours but may be shorter, and all other sessions are 1 hour in length. 24 hours’ cancellation notice is required in order to avoid  being charged for a missed appointment.

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St. John’s, Newfoundland