TOOLS THAT I USE
Building strong relationships and understanding your emotional needs
Attachment-focused therapy is based on attachment theory, which looks at the ways that our earliest relationship experiences create a blueprint for relationships in our lives. Sometimes these blueprints create safety and strength, but they can also sometimes create difficulties or problematic patterns in our lives.
I use this approach with individuals and families. It helps them to understand their core emotional needs underlying many of the difficulties and emotional pain they experience in their lives. They learn to understand how the problems in their lives (e.g., relationship difficulties, problematic behaviours, and behavioural difficulties in children) often reflect attempts to communicate about their emotional needs in ways that are not effective. Attachment-focused therapy provides a base for us to better identify, articulate and regulate emotions. It provides a way to look deeper into relationship issues to get at the heart of the issue and provide lasting meaningful solutions to difficulties whether individual or within a family.
I have completed Level 1 and 2 training in an attachment-focused family therapy approach called Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, with Dan Hughes who developed the approach.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Welcoming all parts of yourself in moving towards healing
Internal Family Systems is based on a theory of the multiplicity of the mind, meaning that we all have different parts of ourselves that have different roles and different strengths/emotions/fears/etc. For example, one part of you might want to come to therapy, while another part of you might have some fears or hesitation. One part of us might feel shame about a situation, while another part might feel anger. Some parts of us hold the pain of past experiences while other parts of us get organized around helping us to not feel that pain (for example, a procrastination part might protect us from feeling the fear of failure). Some of our difficulties arise from parts of us that are trying to help us but are doing so in extreme ways that are creating problems in our lives. An IFS-informed approach works to improve inner harmony and balance by developing more trusting relationships between different parts of us while healing the parts of us that hold emotional wounds from the past. It is a powerful, evidence-based model.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Build a Life Worth Living – use skills to calm the emotional storm
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is an approach to working with adolescents and adults who experience emotions intensely and have difficulties regulating them, leading to impulsive or problem behaviours (such as self-harm; high-risk sex; problematic substance use; stealing; suicidal threats, gestures or attempts; etc.), and difficulties making and sustaining relationships. DBT helps individuals to develop the skills they need to address behavioural and relationship difficulties, to experience their emotions safely, and to build a life worth living.
Please note that while I provide individual DBT-informed therapy, I do not offer the skills group and thus do not offer the full comprehensive DBT model. For more information on DBT, check out some resources from the institute where I completed my core DBT skills training here.
The different therapy approaches that therapists use are often called modalities or models of therapy. Below is some information about the main models of therapy that I use with my clients.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Unlock your body’s own healing abilities
I provide trauma counselling to youth and adults. My approach to working with trauma is to start with a focus on regaining a sense of safety and stability. Sometimes trauma therapy includes processing the actual event/events so that they do not hold you back from your daily life. The goal is not to forget, but rather to reach the place: “that was bad but I survived and now I am okay”. Trauma therapy can also focus solely on present-day functioning and improving aspects of your current life without going into much detail about the past.
EMDR is one approach that I use to address and process trauma. It is quite different from talk therapy. It involves a number of phases of therapy which include taking a history of your life to determine what events in your past may be linked to difficulties that you currently experience, developing some strategies to cope with any difficult emotions or reactions that may come up in the present, then using a technique called “bilateral stimulation” to process traumatic or disturbing events so that these events no longer cause emotional disturbance in your present-day life. This technique does not involve talking in detail about past events but rather allows your brain to go where it needs to while guided by the therapist, in order to facilitate healing from the past.
I am a Certified EMDR Therapist through the EMDR International Association, which means that I have completed extensive training, received supervision and have worked with this model with many clients. You can learn more about EMDR therapy here.