Psychotherapy & Art Therapy

In my experience, problems occur when needs are not being met.  Often this is because we don't know what we need, or we don't know how to get what you need.  Some experiences make it more difficult to know what we need, to know how to meet our needs, or to communicate about what is going on for us.  When we can't get our needs met, life can be difficult, unpleasent, or overwhelming. 

 

As humans beings we have shared needs: survival, safety, love, belonging, autonomy, nd respect, just to name a few.  We also have structural, personal, and interpersonal dynamics that are often not suited to support out thriving, to put it mildly.  

 

When our need for safety and survival is threatened (this is what trauma is and what anxiety can feel like) we can have a profound protective reaction.  Because this reaction is so closely tied to our survival it can be dysregulating on both psychologically and physically 

 

Dysregulation can feel like anger, frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion.  Sometimes the ways that we have learned or have had to develop to deal with these difficult emotions do more to limit us than help us. 

 

Becoming aware of the habitual ways we react and developing the skills to be with and work with our difficult reactions creates opportunities for choice.  Knowledge, insight, and intentional practice enables us to increase these opportunities engage more fully in our own lives.  This can be an uncomfortable practice, but I have never found anything so worthwhile.

Client-Centred  -  Intersectional  -  Inclusive

 

Humanity is diverse, complex, and sometimes strange.  We all inhabit unique intersections of identity that shape our experience and perspective.  Who we are and how we are is shaped by our experiences, our surroundings, and our innate way of being.  You, whoever you are, whatever your experience, are valid and you are valued.  

 

I want to meet you where you are and work with you to move towards what you want.  You have strengths and resources that can be brought to bear on your challenges.  My goal in therapy is to enable you to make informed choices that come from your values and move you towards your goals.  

Trauma-Informed

 

Trauma is an overwhelming experience that violates your sense of agency and autonomy.  Overwhelming experiences have an effect on people.  Trauma and traumatic stress make it difficult to see and engage with opportunities to make choices.  When your experience centres around survival it is not uncommon to feel exhausted, dissociated, or emotionally reactive.  Because of this, my trauma-informed approach prioritizes building physical and psychological safety, developing self-awareness and regulation, and engaging with opportunities for agency. 

  

You do not need to relive or reenact the details of the event or events involved in your trauma response.  My approach to working with trauma emphasizes developing the embodied skills to enable you to self regulate and respond adaptively to challenges.  This means building skills to be with and work with the often overwhelming experience of trauma in the body.  These experiences can change.

Creative & Expressive Art Therapies 

 

Experience and expression go beyond words.  When words fall short, there are other ways to express the truth of what is happening for you.  Art-making serves as a tool to externalize, contain, and develop a different relationship with challenging or overwhelming experiences.

Creativity is a language of choice, action, and reflection.  Through mindful expression and intentional reflection, art-making develops agency.  A reflective art-making practice cultivates a relationship with your creative expression that emphasizes awareness, insight, and regulation.

Art is also fun.  Curiosity and play are part of the process of art.  Engaging with the experiential process of creating art can be a therapeutic experience in itself, a perfect finished piece is not the intention.  Create something, see what happens...

Mindfulness & Mindful Self-Compassion

 

Mindfulness is the skill of attending non-judgementally to what is happening in the present moment.  Paying attention, without being carried away by judgements, narratives, or habitual ways of responding.  There are formal and informal ways to practice mindfulness, and different practices will affect people differently at different times.  Seated meditation may be what comes to mind for many people, and mindfulness practice usually does involve some amount of stillness in a position that is comfortable for your body.  Mindfulness practice also involves formal movement practices such as walking, art-making, and yoga as well as informal practices like doing dishes. 

 

Mindful self-compassion cultivates the skills to treat yourself (and others) with loving and supportive kindness.  Kindness and compassion require strong boundaries and conscious reflection.  Warmth, kindness, and intentionally including yourself in the circle of people whose needs you value can create a profoundly positive change. 

Somatic, Experiential, & Body-Based

 

All our experiences are mediated through the living organism of our body.  Psychological experiences like emotion and stress are also physical experiences.  Chronic dysregulation and stress, psychological or physical, takes a toll.  Experience doing hands-on bodywork has taught me to see the effects of anxiety, stress, and trauma on the body as well as how physical health and functional balance can influence mental health.  

 

The essential connection between our physical experiences (the body) and our psychological experiences (the mind) is why doing is so important.  Practice is not about obedience, or "doing it right".  Practice is the continuing commitment to attend to your present moment experience and treat yourself and others with compassion.