Psychological treatment (i.e., therapy) is offered to help individuals who are struggling with any of a number of psychological problems, such as social anxiety/shyness (i.e., discomfort in social situations), excessive tension or worry, generalized anxiety, panic attacks / panic disorder, fears / phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) / obsessive or compulsive behaviours, sleep disturbances / insomnia, and problems such as low self-esteem, relationship issues, and body image issues. My primary focus is on treating anxiety and anxiety-related problems. I also have particular interest and experience in treating women experiencing prenatal and postpartum anxiety (i.e., perinatal anxiety) and have created a specialized Perinatal Anxiety Treatment Program designed to help new moms and soon-to-be new moms learn specific skills and strategies for dealing with the major life changes that come along with having a baby. For more information about this program, please see Perinatal Anxiety
The individual and group treatment I provide is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is an evidence-based form of therapy that differs from traditional psychotherapy in that it is a structured, short-term, goal-directed, problem-focused, and active form of therapy. CBT is based on the realization that our thoughts (the “cognitive” part of CBT) can influence our feelings and behaviour about a given situation or event, and vice versa. Such thoughts are typically negative (e.g., “I can’t succeed in my new job”; “nobody will ever want to be my friend”; “I should have known better”; “I’ll never be as perfect as I should be”) and they happen so quickly that we are usually not even aware that such thoughts crossed our minds; we call these “automatic thoughts” and they represent a distorted way of thinking about and perceiving experiences or events. CBT is a collaborative approach in which the client and therapist work together in a supportive and respectful manner, with the therapist helping the client to learn to recognize his or her patterns of behaviour and distorted thoughts. Clients also learn and practice new ways of thinking about, feeling about and acting towards different situations and events in a safe environment. A major advantage of CBT is that the client learns how to be his or her own therapist, which is a useful tool in preventing relapse.
An additional advantage of CBT as a treatment choice is that it does not require the use of medication in order to be effective. In fact, research has consistently shown that CBT is not only an extremely effective method for treating many types of psychological problems, such phobias, anxiety, panic attacks / panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger issues, sleep and eating disorders, substance abuse, and chronic pain and illness, amongst others, but also that in some cases it is more effective than medication. It should be noted, however, that medication may, in certain cases, help an individual be able to more easily manage their anxiety levels and mental health problems in order to allow them to engage in the therapeutic process. If, through working together, it seems that medication may be helpful to ensure the best treatment, we can discuss various options and with your written permission I can work with your family physician to help establish the best care. Although psychologists typically have a working knowledge of various psychotherapeutic medications, at the present time we are not licensed to prescribe medication in the province of Ontario.
Anyone, regardless of age, education or background, can benefit from CBT provided they put the work in. Although it is a highly collaborative process with the client and therapist working together in sessions, the client is responsible for:
a) being ready and willing to take responsibility for making personal changes
b) coming to session ready and willing to work towards making changes
c) completing homework assignments (to the best of his or her ability) in between sessions as part of working toward end goals
d) coming to session willing and able to reflect upon his or her thoughts, feelings and behaviours
What should I expect from my first Therapy Appointment?
What should I expect at my first therapy appointment?
The first appointment for therapy is largely geared towards information gathering and getting to know each other a little bit. We will discuss what Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is, how it works, and how therapy sessions will be structured, and we will talk briefly about the issue(s) that have brought you in to see me. We will also discuss limits of confidentiality and privacy, and any questions or concerns you may have will be answered. If all seems agreeable to both parties then we will complete a small amount of paperwork to get the process started. Included in this paperwork is a consent form (of which we will both keep a copy) that indicates in writing that you have given informed consent to enter into treatment with me, as well as the details surrounding if you wish to stop treatment and the limits of confidentiality that we will have discussed previously. I will then conduct an interview to gather some background information (e.g., level of education, work history, relevant medical history, history of the problem(s) that brought you in for treatment, etc); this information will be used to help determine any diagnoses (if appropriate) and will be used to guide treatment.
As CBT is an active and collaborative process, we will sit at a desk during sessions which will allow us to look at materials together and move around as needed; there will be no lying down on couches like how you see in the movies. Therapy sessions last 50 minutes, but you will be charged for a 60-minute session; the last 10 minutes of each session is used by me for documentation / record keeping, and session preparation. Depending how the first session proceeds, a second information gathering session may be required. Otherwise, we will begin working on the presenting issue(s) at the start of your second session.