Frequently Asked Questions
This is a very important question, and the answer is yes. I believe that confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of the counselling experience. It is absolutely foundational to the creation of a safe relationship in which healing can happen. I take it very seriously and everything you share with me will be kept confidential. There are, however, a few standard exceptions that are required by law. These are as follows:
When a client discloses intentions or a plan to harm another person, the mental health professional is required to warn the intended victim and report this information to legal authorities. In cases in which the client discloses or implies a plan for suicide, the health care professional is required to notify legal authorities and make reasonable attempts to notify the family of the client.
If a client states or suggests that he or she is abusing a child (or vulnerable adult) or has recently abused a child (or vulnerable adult), or a child (or vulnerable adult) is in danger of abuse, the mental health professional is required to report this information to the appropriate social service and/or legal authorities.
Parents or legal guardians of non-emancipated minor clients have the right to access the clients' records.
Insurance companies and other third-party payers may be given information that they request regarding services to clients.
I am happy to dicuss with clients any concerns that they may have about protecting confidentiality.
There is no simple answer to this question. Sometimes people start to feel better quite quickly, and sometimes deep transformation happens suddenly. Often the simple act of telling your story and receiving support can begin to create change in how you feel.
It is also true, however, that real change can take time. It took your whole life to get you to where you are now, and it may take some time before you are able to feel things shifting. You may not feel better right away. In fact, sometimes people find that counselling stirs up a lot of stuff that was buried before. This does not necessarily feel bad, but can sometimes feel quite intense or uncomfortable.
In our first few sessions, we will talk about how long it might take to reach your goals for counselling. I will also check in with you regularly to see how you feel we are doing. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how long you want to continue our work together.
This is one of those questions that will get you a different answer from every different person you ask. These terms are often used interchangeably, and in BC, people tend to use "counselling" more often. In my mind, counselling tends to be more short-term, and more solutions-oriented. Psychotherapy involves looking deeper, and exploring more of the origins of your patterns, beliefs and behaviours. Both are valuable. I use both terms to describe my work. Some issues can be resolved through more of a counselling approach, and some require deeper digging.
Somatic psychotherapy is sometimes also called "body-oriented" psychotherapy. Traditionally, psychotherapy has ignored the body, focusing instead on trying to understand what is happening in the client's head. Somatic therapists, however, recognize that for every feeling, belief or idea, there is a corresponding experience in the body. You may have noticed this yourself, for instance when something upsetting happens to you and you instantly feel your heart start pounding, or a rush of heat to your face.
Somatic therapy recognizes that often, we are not able to "talk our way out of" our biggest issues through talk therapy. This understanding is slowly becoming much more mainstream, especially as a growing body of research demonstrates that true healing from trauma must include the body as well as the mind.
Many people either completely ignore their body, or feel like it is is "the enemy". Somatic therapy believes that the body is a source of deep wisdom, and will help you to experience this for yourself. The amazing thing is that over time, and with the right support, you can learn to be friends with your body again. Your body can become a safe home and a source of emotional strength and well-being.
Some therapists do incorporate touch into their work. However, generally the way I work is more about helping you to have a better relationship with your own body, and more awareness of what it might be trying to tell you.
On occasion, I might sense that it would be helpful to incorporate non-invasive, non-sexual touch (for example, placing my hand on your back to help bring awareness to that area) in our work together, but we would discuss this in advance and agree upon exactly what was going to happen. You always have control over what happens in our sessions, and I also pay close attention to your comfort level and other factors when deciding if and when to incorporate touch into a session. You always have the right to refuse to be touched. You also always have the right to change your mind about being touched, even if you previously agreed to it.
When used thoughtfully and in a context of safety, touch can bring a new dimension of awareness to the physical dimension of certain patterns, and can help to shift things in a very embodied way.
Choosing a counsellor is a big decision. The most important thing is to choose someone who you feel comfortable with -- someone who you think will "get you". To help you make a decision, I offer a free consultation to new clients. This can be in person or on the phone, and it is your chance to talk about what you are hoping to get out of counselling, and to get a sense for me and my style. If you do not think I am the right counsellor for you, or if I do not think I am the best person to help you, I will gladly provide you with referrals to other people or agencies that might be able to help you.
If you want to dive right in, you are welcome to schedule a full session without having a consultation first.